The Gujarat government should ensure that “love jihadis” do not enter garba pandals during the upcoming Navratri festival and even the service providers at the events should not be from the Muslim community, the VHP said on Saturday. Speaking to mediapersons, VHP joint general secretary Surendra Jain also claimed that Hindu religious processions were being increasingly targeted.
“Garba is an occasion to offer worship to Goddess. Some ‘jihadis’ misuse such occasions. I would like to appeal to all the organisers of garba that pandal-walas (those who construct pandals), catering service people or members of security services should not be Muslim, and they should allow entry to any person only after checking ID card and Aadhaar card,” Jain said.
It was the Gujarat government’s responsibility to ensure that “nobody tries to turn the pious event of garba into a love jihad target,” he added. “We will stop them, but there is a possibility of unrest. The government should ensure that law and order is maintained and love jihadis do not get close to the venues,” said Jain.
Garba is a Gujarati folk dance performed during the nine-day Navratri festival, which will be celebrated from October 15 to 23. ‘Love jihad’ is a term used by right-wing organisations to allege a ploy by Muslim men to lure Hindu women into religious conversion through marriage.
Jain further said that the Gujarat government passed an “anti love jihad Act” due to VHP’s efforts, but it was not being enforced properly. The Union government has given an assurance to the VHP over its request to enact a central law against love jihad, he added.
The Gujarat Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Act, 2021, penalises forcible or fraudulent religious conversion through marriage. The Gujarat High Court has stayed some provisions of the law.
Jain further alleged that even in Gujarat, the “laboratory of Hindutva”, Hindu religious processions were being attacked, and stones were pelted on many Shaurya Jagran Yatras of the Bajrang Dal. He warned Muslim leaders not to “instigate” their community members.
So far, the Bajrang Dal, VHP’s youth wing, has taken out 16 such yatras in Gujarat to mark its sixty years, he said. The campaign will conclude in Ahmedabad on Sunday, Jain added.